ADBA urges government Food Waste Champion not to neglect recycling

The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has written to the government’s new Food Surplus and Waste Champion to urge him not to overlook the recycling of inedible food waste.

Philanthropist Ben Elliott was appointed as the new Food Surplus and Waste Champion at the end of 2018 as the government looks to move forward with plans to reduce the UK’s food waste and redistribute edible surplus, as detailed in the recently released Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS).

Charlotte Morton, the Chief Executive of ADBA, which represents many anaerobic digestion (AD) operators in the UK, wrote to Elliott to congratulate him on his new role while urging him not to neglect food waste that cannot be avoided or safely redistributed to people or animals.

ADBA urges government Food Waste Champion not to neglect recycling
ADBA Chief Executive Charlotte Morton.

The UK produces approximately 10 million tonnes of food waste every year, around 60 per cent of which could have been avoided. Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently announced the release of £15 million of funding aimed at reducing food waste, which he described as “morally indefensible”.

In her letter, Morton highlighted the need to divert food waste from landfill; six million tonnes of food waste are currently sent to landfill or incineration, causing emissions of climate-change-inducing methane and the loss of the energy and nutrients locked up in the waste.

To combat this, Morton highlighted the need for universal separate food waste collections, to allow food waste to be separated from residual waste and converted through AD into renewable energy and natural fertiliser. A proposal to introduce this service to every local authority by 2023 was included in the RWS and will be put out for consultation. Morton also pointed out that the introduction of food waste collections is associated with a reduction in food waste levels as householders and businesses become more aware of the amount of food they are throwing away.

Only around a third of households in England currently have access to food waste collections. ADBA estimates that universal collections for households alone could achieve a carbon saving of up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year – as well as producing an additional 187 megawatts electrical-equivalent of electricity capacity, enough to power all the homes in a city the size of Glasgow.

Commenting on letter, Morton said: “The appointment of a Food Waste Champion is vital to ensuring the goals of the Resources and Waste Strategy are met, and it’s absolutely right that this new role will prioritise prevention and redistribution of edible food waste in line with the food waste hierarchy.

“It’s essential, however, that the need for separate food waste collections to recycle food waste that can’t be prevented or redistributed is not forgotten. The government’s own findings identify AD as the best treatment option for inedible food waste, allowing this waste to be recycled into renewable energy and soil-restoring natural fertiliser.

“It’s also important to point out the critical role of food waste collections in reducing food waste, through making householders and businesses more aware of the amount of food they are throwing away.”

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